We define Skills for Life as including ‘functional skills’ but also broader skills. These broader skills extend to English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), digital literacy, problem solving, learning at work skills, influencing skills, co-operative skills and self-organising skills, communication and shared decision making. These are skills we all need to flourish both in work and outside of it.
Understanding Skills for Life
What are Functional Skills?
Functional skills are defined as the fundamental applied skills in literacy, numeracy and digital literacy that help people to gain the most from life, learning and working. Studying functional skills is necessary for an apprentice on any standard (or framework) if they do not have evidence to demonstrate that they already hold the requisite level. Subjects are broken down into levels and assessed independently.
Please see a definition of these subjects below.
Functional skills levels have a number of different equivalencies (they are not equivalent to the corresponding apprenticeship level). Please see the table below for a simple explanation of these equivalencies.
Employees on an apprenticeship at levels 3 – 7 need to hold functional skills level 2 by completion. Employees on a level 2 apprenticeship need to hold functional skills level 1 by completion. Learners with an education, health and care plan or a legacy statement need to hold functional skills entry level 3 by completion.
Employer’s FAQs – What are the requirements for English and Maths?
There are many other qualifications that satisfy the criteria of being equivalent to level 2 functional skills. All of these meet the threshold for apprenticeships at level 3 and above. Please see them all below.
- Funding & Choosing a provider
Research and Reading
HEE has commissioned two pieces of research in this area – looking at why weaknesses in English and maths (numeracy and literacy) and other cross-cutting skills can impede workforce progression. The Beyond the Brand report looks at the impact of these weaknesses on those wanting to go into and through Apprenticeships in healthcare, including HE Higher and Degree Apprenticeships in regulated health profession. Reading these reports is not only helpful to understand this field but also very helpful when making cases for funding, staff support etc to senior management. Skills for Life in Health and Care sets out an easy-to-read plan for the sector to improve competence in these skills and the more employers co-operate to achieve it, the richer the outcome for all. Also, elements of it can be taken and applied to individual employer settings.
The third piece of relevant reading is the Skills for the Future report, produced by Exeter University and commissioned by Unison. With over 38,000 responses, the survey was the biggest of its kind in Europe so provides a very strong basis from which to draw conclusions on the impact of the deficit of these skills in the UK population. The data can be cut in many ways to make it relevant to specific groups e.g. gender, race, age etc
- Learner case studies
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